From beginning to end, Above and Beyond have created a musical staple that will stand out from the massive amount of trance producers releasing tracks today. For many the name Above and Beyond is recognizable because they have been producing since 2000 and have won many awards and are renowned for their uplifting trance anthems. Although this is only their third album, they have grown in leaps and bounds since their release of Sirens of the Sea in 2008. Group Therapy is made up of 15 total tracks, though some are interludes, every song has its place and it all fits together like one big trance puzzle.
We have heard her voice before and definitely have reason to come back for more
After Above and Beyond wrote an entire album with Zoe Johnston, it's pretty evident that they were going to continue to collaborate together. So with Group Therapy we get some solid tracks and a few that really stand out. After the intro, the first track is a song featuring Zoe. The best way to describe her voice in this song would be haunting. Not only does she sing beautifully, but A&B understand how to use certain mixing techniques to make her voice jump at you without being overbearing. "You Got to Go" is another track that seems like it would fit if you were laying out by the pool or on the beach with lots of pads, strings, and atmospheric synths complimenting her melodies. As the album progresses, the songs with Zoe get faster and fit the uplifting trance vibe. "Love is Enough" and "Sweetest Heart" both end up having a fuller and faster sound and at the end of the album A&B brings it to a nice close with an ambient track with Zoe entitled "Only a Few Things."
This time around they decided to use two vocalists for the album.
The other notable singer that is all over this album is Richard Bedford. Fans of A&B will instantly recognize his voice from the track "Alone Tonight" that they wrote in 2006. The first track featuring Mr. Bedford is "Sun and Moon" and although this is the third track on the album it is the one that will get your body moving and your blood flowing. It's also probably the most recognizable of all the tracks since it was the first single released from the album. It has all the makings of a classic big room tune with great vocals and high energy synths to keep trance enthusiasts the world over jumping for years to come. The combination of the electro bassline and Bedford's vocals compliment each other well. When the chorus hits, it's pretty much impossible to sit still. The other high energy track featuring Richard is "Thing Called Love." This track has a much more driving bassline with a lot of strong synths backed by some piano. The first time I heard it was actually when I saw A&B in Nashville a few weeks back, and I instantly fell in love with it. Many times less is more with lyrics in the electronic music scene, but they found a great balance between music and lyrics so it all fits together superbly while not taking away from each other. Another song that features Richard that I really enjoy is "Black Room Boy." Except that this song also features Tony McGuiness of A&B and the two going back and forth really creates a great dynamic of a more spoken word feeling. Although it has less going on musically, again they find a great symmetry between having too much going on and just enough.
There are always going to be those instrumentals that connect with your soul.
A number of the other tracks are more like instrumentals or interludes than full songs. However, they are still beautifully composed and produced and it creates more of a journey throughout the entire album. Some of the more noticeable tracks are "Prelude" and "Sun in your Eyes." "Prelude" has more of a tribal feel with chanting throughout the song with lots of great melodies and basslines. While "Sun in your Eyes" makes me think of a calm day sitting under a cool shade, with its layers of melodic sounds and arpeggios its easy to get lost in the song. It is very reminiscent of Paul Van Dyk's "Forbidden Fruit" (a personal favorite of mine).
There is a reason they were voted #5 best DJs in the world
While this album is not perfect, it is a great piece of music. The lyrics throughout the entire album are clever and thought-provoking. All of the vocals fit beautifully with each track. A&B has definitely stepped up their game from their last artist album, and it shows that they have matured as writers and producers. There is not a track on here that I don't like, and quite a few that I absolutely love. I would recommend this to any Electronic Dance Music enthusiast and it is a must have for anyone remotely interested in trance music. Keep the beautiful melodies coming from the UK boys, because we all want more.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the record label. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.